Call of Duty Black Ops 1 is a 2010 first-person shooter video game developed by Treyarch and published by Activision. It was released worldwide in November 2010 for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii with a separate version for Nintendo DS developed by n-Space. Aspyr later released the game for OS X in September 2012. It is the seventh title in the Call of Duty series and the third to be developed by Treyarch. It serves as the sequel to Call of Duty: World at War.
Set in the 1960s during the Cold War, the game’s campaign follows CIA operative Alex Mason as he attempts to recall certain memories in combat in order to locate a numbers station. This station is due to transmit broadcasts to sleeper agents who are bound to use chemical weapons across the United States. Mason and CIA operative Jason Hudson are the game’s main playable characters, as well as Red Army soldier Viktor Reznov in only one mission. Locations featured in the game include Cuba, Laos, Vietnam, the Soviet Union, the United States, Hong Kong, and the Arctic Circle. The multiplayer of Black Ops features multiple objective-based game modes that are playable on 14 different maps included with the game. Improvements to loadout options and killstreak rewards are made. A form of virtual currency, COD Points, allows players to purchase weapons and customization options for their in-game character, as well as attachments and customization options for their weapon.
Development for the game began in 2009. It runs an enhanced version of the IW 3.0 engine used in Treyarch’s past title, World at War. The improvements made allowed for bigger campaign levels to be made as well as enhanced lighting. Treyarch focused specifically on Black Ops during development; they were developing two games at once while making World at War. Different teams within the company focused on a certain game mode. Music was composed by Sean Murray, with music by The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Eminem, and Avenged Sevenfold appearing in the game. The marketing of the game began in April 2010. Multiple trailers promoting the game and its modes were released from May until October.
The game received generally positive reviews from critics with praise for its engaging story, characters, improvement of the multiplayer and zombies mode, but some critics criticized the technical issues and the repetitive gameplay. Within 24 hours of going on sale, the game had sold more than 5.6 million copies, 4.2 million in the U.S. and 1.4 million in the UK, breaking the record set by its predecessor Modern Warfare 2 by some 2.3 million copies. After six weeks on release, Activision reported that Black Ops had exceeded $1 billion in sales. On August 3, 2011, Activision confirmed that the game had sold over 25 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling games of all time in the US, UK, and Europe. Three sequels, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, were released in November 2012, November 2015, and October 2018, respectively. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, set between Black Ops and Black Ops II, was released on November 13, 2020.
Black Ops is a first-person shooter, retaining the same gameplay mechanics as previous Call of Duty titles. The player assumes the role of a foot soldier who can wield various firearms (only two of which can be carried at once), throw grenades and other explosives, and use other equipment as weapons. A player close enough to an enemy can kill with one knife blow. A character can take three stances: standing, crouching, or prone. Each affects the rate of movement, accuracy, and stealth. The player can drop to the prone stance from the standing stance while running (colloquially known as “dolphin diving”), and can momentarily sprint before having to stop. The screen glows red to indicate damage to a player’s health, which regenerates over time. When the character is within the blast radius of a live grenade, an on-screen marker indicates where it is in relation to the player, helping the player to move away or to throw it back. Among the weapons new to the series in Black Ops are crossbows with bolts and explosive ammunition, Dragon’s Breath rounds and ballistic knives.
The player assumes the role of various characters during the single-player campaign, changing perspectives throughout the story. The playable characters are covert operatives conducting black operations behind enemy lines. In this way, the player’s characters have their own traits such as voices and shadows. Each mission features a series of objectives that are displayed on the heads-up display, which marks the direction and distance towards and from such objectives as it has been in the earlier versions. The player is accompanied by friendly troops throughout the game. Although primarily a first-person shooter, certain levels feature sequences where the player pilots a Hind helicopter and guides friendly troops from a SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft. The campaign features several scripted cinematic moments. One of them is a bullet time effect during the “Victor Charlie” level, activated when the player fires toward the last enemy of a Viet Cong squad.
As a first in the Call of Duty main series, player characters can now speak during gameplay, whereas in previous installments, primarily those made by Infinity Ward, characters would be silent during gameplay, even if they could speak during cutscenes.